This is an important year for Martin Perez.
The lefty is currently the No. 3 pitcher in the Rangers starting rotation. The expectations are believed to be that Perez will turn the corner this season and become a top of the rotation-type guy for the rest of his career in a Rangers uniform.
Is it happening?
The answers may vary but the numbers don’t seem to back up those who feel he’s living up to the hype during the first month of the season. After Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Angels, Perez dropped to 1-4 with a 4.26 ERA after six starts. What may be more troubling for those keeping count at home is that it seems the same issues continue to haunt Perez.
The first time through the batting order, the 26-year old can look dominant. However, the second time through the order can be the exact opposite. One reason may be control of his arsenal. Every major league pitcher has a start or an inning where the off-speed stuff isn’t biting and pitches are lacking on location. It does seem to happen to Perez quite a bit over the years, leading to that dreaded “one-inning” where everything seems to fall about.
In his start on Sunday, Perez didn’t see any two-strike counts. The Angels appeared to go into the game with the mentality of jumping on the fastball and change-up early, forcing Perez to adjust. It’s a dangerous scenario for Perez, who pitches to contact.
“I think I threw good,” said Perez after the game. “I gave up a couple of bloopers with a couple of pitches and that’s the game. That’s baseball.”
Perez does have a point. The Angels took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Jefry Marte hit a soft liner up the middle that was just out of the reach of a diving Elvis Andrus. But it also brings into question the continued struggles of putting hitters away when the opportunity is available.
“It came down to pitch execution today for Martin,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. “We gave up four runs with two outs; two of those I believe were 0-2. Felt like if we made a pitch there we get out of a couple of different innings. Incapable of doing that.”
In six starts this season, Perez has pitched less than six innings in four of them and has exited with the lead only once. Granted some of those starts may have been low-scoring affairs where the offense didn’t provide any help.
Now will this continue to be a trend?
One has to wonder but Perez has major league stuff and a work ethic that can help buck the trend. During batting practice prior to Monday’s game against the Twins, Perez was running around the stadium along the ground floor at the Globe. It’s a positive display of dedication that can be viewed as a way to improve stamina in order to last longer in starts. Plus age is on his side at only 26, so there’s still time for improvement.
The potential is also there but chances and patience might be running out, which makes the rest of this season an important one for Perez.